DNS Oversimplified

... or, even a rocket scientist can understand DNS

December, 2011: Check out DNStrails.com, with fast tools to cross-reference domains, hostnames, and IPs (reverse IP), and historical DNS data.
July, 2011: GoDaddy introduces a "Selective DNS Blackouts" Policy!

The goal of this page is to help you make sure that your DNS is set up properly, and help you many common errors that may exist. It will also help you if you are setting up DNS for the first time -- there is a lot of valuable information in here, and after you are done, you can walk through this step-by-step to make sure you did everything properly. Just go through the following steps in order:

  • Step 1: WHOIS: Making sure you exist at the top of the food chain.
  • Step 2: Your Name Servers: 1 primary, at least 1 secondary, identical to what WHOIS reports.
  • Step 3: SOA Record: The beginning (and end) of your DNS entry.
  • Step 4: A Records: Turning domain names into IP addresses.
  • Step 5: MX Records: Making sure mail gets delivered to you.
  • Step 6: CNAME: Pointing to someone else's servers.
 New: A page on Reverse IP Lookups (cross-referencing domains, hostnames, and server IPs). 

That should cover most common errors. For a more comprehensive way to check your DNS, you may want to check out www.DNSstuff.com and www.DNSreport.com. For other cool tools using past DNS data, check out www.DNStrails.com.

(C) Copyright 2000-2015 R. Scott Perry
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- Last site change: 25 Jan 2012